“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
― Franz Kafka
As writers, we can come up with some unique ways of looking at the world.
A man wakes up to realise he’s turned into a monstrous insect. A man attempts to interact with a strange, unknowable bureaucracy. Kafka imagined unconventional ways of interpreting the truth of reality.
We too have a unique perspective on the world. It might not be as bizarre as Kafka’s, or in many cases, it might be even more so.
Either way, merely own it. Don’t hold back—explore your ideas to their fullest degree. You can pull it all into shape in the, undoubtedly long editing process.
So just for now, follow all your crazy ideas as far as they’ll take you.
Today, let your book take an unexpected turn. Have you been wondering what would happen if your character said something extreme, or if they were faced with an unforeseeable plot twist?
I’ve discovered I’m drifting off into the Pantser’s world. So, take the risk and do it!
I am within the 7th week of this 14 and a half week course, and things are getting harder. I usually write at least 1,000 words every weekday and have the weekend off, except for Saturday morning when I spend about 4 hours Saturday morning critiquing 3 to 4 people’s submissions that they had updated on Fridays.
We have to submit every Friday somewhere in the region of 2,500 to 7,500 words each week. By the 19th June which is the final submission day, we should have 65,000 words. Moreover, a finished first draft of our novels.
I did start my novel by pantsing it, and after about 15,000 words I did not know where the story was going. So I stopped and thought that I should outline the story of my novel. I also looked at the different genres of crime fiction and opted for the hardboiled detective.
The Write Practice has given me room for thought on where my novel is set and where I get my ideas. It is true that if you help other writers by critiquing their submissions, then you receive help back from them. The outline is relatively basic, so when I come to write that section, it is still open to a significant amount of change that comes to my mind when I go through the scene.
This update is about my progress to my first draft of my first novel in crime fiction. I am on Day 38 of 100 on a course called Write a Book in 100 Days, by The Write Practice.
Here are my observations:
1. The course is $100 more expensive, but if you complete your weekly deadlines of posting the 4,500 words you wrote during that week for 15 weeks, then you will have the money returned. While you reach a total of 65,000 words after 100 days.
I have to say, this type of deadline pressure does help you find the time and actually to meet the word count. Although, you can miss two deadlines of the course and still receive the $100 refund.
2. There are about 140 students on this course, and we are embedded in groups of 10 people. Each week on Fridays I have to submit my chapter. Before the next Friday, I have to read at least three other people’s submissions and critique their work.
This critique of 2000 to 7000 words is not as easy as it sounds. As it is a first draft then spelling, grammar and punctuation is not an issue. Not even ‘Show, don’t tell’ is an issue you can highlight.
I often write at the top of my submission that all I am interested in is how fast it is progressing and what the voice of the narration sounds like to the reader.
I have to congratulate Joe Bunting in creating such a helpful course.
Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction
This is the opposite of the ‘Cosy’ crime. The cosy crime being able to be read by young children. The ‘Hard-Boiled’ novel has terrible language, maybe a sexual encounter and the book is covered in blood dripping onto your lap. The gory details are graphic and intense. These stories are not very violent, but the results of violence are imaged.
The term ‘Hard-Boiled’ was started in the 1920s California. The Protagonist detective should have some significant flaws that need to hinder the capture of the criminal, but we have the impression that the detective knows and has an absolute sense of what is right and wrong.
It is possible to have some fun with dreaming up some buried and embedded flaws for the detective.
Unlike the ‘cosy’ sub-genre the hard-boiled sub-genre would need a lot of research into violent crime, forensics, blood splatter, and wounds.
Within this sub-genre of crime fiction is the cosy mystery. As a reader, the cosy mystery invites the crime and detective to solve an infamous crime but leaves out the blood and guts, bad language and sex. It supplies a happy ending. So a cosy mystery crime novel may be thought of as ‘Light Crime.’ However, has no lesser climax that the others in this genre. This sub-genre was made popular by Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and the murderer’s town of Midsomer. It is often set in middle-class small towns.
A new and upcoming crime writer, like myself, could convincingly write a cosy mystery, without too much prior knowledge of forensics, pathology or any other science.
To write a thoroughly convincing novel, you would have to look carefully at the puzzle that the detective must solve. If it is too apparent, then the reader will be tired easily. However, if it is too far-fetched and absurd, then the reader will make a not never to read any more of your work.
On your sleuth’s obscure and deep past:
While your sleuth has a mysterious and profound past, this raises the stakes. Every time out, your sleuth not only determines the crime but they also take an individual journey that includes a lot of struggle so they can get it right this time around.
There are many sleuths with emotional impediments such as:
Columbo – Oh the famous and very loveable Columbo; the best homicide detective there ever was. The only problem was he did not like hospitals, flying in a plane or sailing on small boats. He was forgetful with the location of his pen. This meant that with all these disadvantages, he was just an average guy like me or you. Most people could relate to the problems he had and therefore connect. It is this connection that makes a protagonist likeable.
The first action is to pick a unique and unusual location. For a strange and unique mystery. This goes back to keeping things simple. Allow the wonder and confusion to stem from one part or the other of your story. Too much can create chaos in your reader.
Limit yourself to five or fewer suspects. Not only does this make your story more tight and concise, but it also makes it easier for your reader to keep track of the clues and hints.
Create subtle connections to each character to create cohesion. Your supporting characters are suspects by design. Each one should connect to each other in subtle ways. This will tie your story together in ways that will leave your reader reeling, but in a genuine way.
Eventually, it all stems down to; The intensity of your mystery will arise either from the characters or the intricacy of the crime. It is best to stick to one or the other, and you should have success.